At the end of every year, social media feeds become inundated with people’s top memories from the past 365 days. These memories are often highlights from the most memorable experiences that vary from life-changing events like a wedding to a small concert with their best friend.
Our industry has the unique ability to become an integral part of a person’s yearly story. Think about it, we are providing people’s homes where they spend between 46% of their daily lives. Remarkable experiences happen every day in our residents’ homes but rarely are apartment management companies the catalysts of these experiences. Sure, we may provide good customer service, keep grounds clean, and fix maintenance requests quickly but these things won’t make a year-end social media highlight reel.
So, why should you care about your community being featured on somebody’s Instagram Best Nine? Why does it matter if you create some epic experience when you already provide a great apartment home? Because these remarkable experiences will lead to a stronger more loveable brand, your community will stand for much more than a simple shelter, and ultimately you’ll sign more new leases and renewals.
When a resident is deciding on whether they will renew or not they will assess your community based on what psychologists call the “peak-end rule”. The peak-end rule states that a person will “judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.” The peak could be a good experience like a fantastic resident event or a poor experience like a flood. By crafting remarkable experiences throughout the year you have a better shot at creating a fantastic peak moment and thus a renewal.
Remarkable experiences can also help you attract new leases. When a prospect is thinking about where to live next they will only recall three to seven options. Creating remarkable experiences while marketing to prospects will help your community carve out a spot in the prospects consideration set. Not only will remarkable experiences help you stay top of mind but they’ll also help strengthen your brand story and provide an offering your competitors can’t match. You may not have the ability to alter price,layout, or location, but you do have the ability to create remarkable experiences at your community
OK, so you’re ready to craft some epic experiences. Where do you start? Remarkable experiences should take place in as many touch points as possible including customer service, lease signings, and resident events. Having said this, events are probably the easiest place to start. When thinking through the events that you hold for residents and prospects follow the simple MISS rule. By integrating each part of MISS you’re sure to be on your way to crafting a remarkable experience.
In order for an experience to become remarkable it must be memorable. There isn’t a single formula to crafting a memorable experience but implementing one or more of the tactics below will help lead to one.
- Manufacture something that is 100% unique. Unique experiences are more memorable because they easily stand above the noise. For example, your community could hold a Zombie Laser Tag tournament. This is a unique event that likely no one has experienced and thus makes it more memorable than an average event.
- Elevate a normal experience. Elevating a standard experience to the next level can which makes it more memorable. For example, most people have been bowling before but have never gone human-sized cosmic bowling. Combining some human-sized inflatable orbs, giant bowling pins, black lights, and some glow tape/paint creates an epic and memorable event. Check out some inspiration below.
- Surprise your audience. Surprises are unexpected and thus become more memorable. For example, many apartment communities hold casino nights with various casino type games. If you hold this type of event surprise attendees by telling them the person at the end of the night with the most chips wins a free weekend in Las Vegas AND they leave that night! This event instantly becomes more memorable because of this surprise.
A great experience is interactive. Many events apartment communities hold are very passive. Breakfast on the go, movie nights, Waffle Wednesday, and National Ice Cream Day are all very passive in nature. Residents come down, grab a bite, maybe chat with another resident for a minute and then are gone. These events don’t encourage or require attendees to become part of the event itself. Interactive events make better experiences because the attendee is engulfed in the experience instead of a wall fly.
A great example of an interactive experience is Paint Dodgeball. Find a grassy area (or other area that won’t be permanently affected by paint), dip dodgeballs in paint, and play dodgeball in white clothing. Elevate the experience with some black lights and glow paint! This event requires people to become part of the action and thus is much more memorable than a more passive event.
Develop experiences that involve as many senses as possible. Experiences that are sensory rich become more interesting because of these stimuli. The elements that play into each sense also play a big part in the overall execution of the event. For example, on-site concerts often only focus on sound. Of course, sound is extremely important but implementing sight, touch, taste, and smell can turn a run-of-the-mill concert into a much better experience. Think of all of the concerts that now include color powder cannons, light shows, themed food, and beach balls floating in the crowd.
Just as the music industry has embraced all five senses so should we. Think about the pool parties most apartment communities hold. Think through how elements of the event can affect the senses. A hot local DJ or band can provide a pleasant listening experience. A frozen slushie machine in a custom branded flavor can amplify the tastes at the event. The smell of BBQ wafts through the air. Misting stations fulfill the touch sense by keeping attendees cool. Oh, and if you move the entire party to a lake or river and float everything you have an unexpected visual.
Last but not least, the experience you develop should tell a story about your brand. Holding an event that doesn’t tie into your brand’s core offering or story won’t help amplify what your community stands for. Instead, it injects brand confusion and doesn’t help separate you from your competitors. For example, if your community’s brand story is to offer a luxury VIP lifestyle it doesn’t make sense to offer free doughnuts for a Breakfast on the Go event. Doughnuts in no way tie into either a luxury or VIP lifestyle. Instead t, is community should offer an invite/RSVP only brunch on the rooftop featuring a cooking class from a hot local chef, champagne, and someone playing guitar. This event adds a chapter to their brand story further illustrating the brand’s purpose.
While it may seem difficult to shake away from the lifeless experiences our industry typically offers, it is imperative we do so. We have a unique opportunity to craft remarkable experiences that meld into our core offering, their home. In 2018 I challenge each team to think strategically about the experiences they offer their residents and prospects. Experiences that are so good that at the end of 2018 your residents and prospects are posting an experience from your community in their Instagram best nine. Start by creating remarkable event experiences. I promise putting in the time to these experience will create real value at your community. If you have any questions or examples of remarkable experiences you’ve created please comment below or send me an email!
Cheers to a remarkable 2018!